Building a Thos. Moser Design New Gloucester Rocking Chair #15: Rum's Brilliant Solution for Lining Up 14 Spindles for Glue-Up

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Blog entry by DustyMark posted 01-04-2013 04:43 PM 2591 reads 1 time favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 14: Evaluating the Prototype Top Crest Part 15 of Building a Thos. Moser Design New Gloucester Rocking Chair series Part 16: Making the Final Top Crest »

Vexing Problem

In my last blog, I wondered how I could possibly line up 14 spindles under tension and force them down into their corresponding seat holes. I posted the question to the forum and Rum came up with the following solution.

Brilliant Solution

Build an alignment jig that fits just below the final crest. Drill down from the top of the top crest prototype into another piece of wood. This ensures that the compound angle holes continued in perfect alignment from one piece to the other. Cut the lower piece in half right down the holes. Shim the resulting kerf with playing card shims folded into four layers. Reassemble the new piece with 5 screws. Redrill the spindle holes since the jig probably didn’t mate perfectly. The alignment jig is ready for use.

The entire back is dry assembled through the alignment jig one spindle at a time. The spindles are popping through in perfect alignment to receive the actual top crest.

Here the top crest is postioned on top of the exposed spindles. Push down on the top crest to insert 14 spindles simultaneously into the top crest. This worked so well that I didn’t even need to use the dead-blow mallet!

The top crest is in position. The alignment jig is unscrewed to remove it from the assembly.


Rum’s alignment jig will remove the drama from assembling the upper half of the rocking chair. I could assemble it by myself now, but will ask my wife to help with handing the spindles to me in sequence and gluing the wedges. It seems that the easiest strategy during glue-up will be to use liquid hide glue and insert it in the spindle holes. That will allow me to keep a fast pace. That’s really the only option for the top crest since the spindles are inserted simultaneously.

-- Mark, Minnesota

4 comments so far

View davidmoser's profile


1 post in 3328 days

#1 posted 01-04-2013 05:17 PM

... looking forward to seeing the finished project!! Here you might leave a bit more space in the alignment rail which will enable you to coax the spindles into the crest. Here at the shop we place the spindles between pins so that we can access them from the front and fit them into the crest.

View jap's profile


1251 posts in 2020 days

#2 posted 01-04-2013 05:20 PM

very nice

-- Joel

View stefang's profile


15881 posts in 3300 days

#3 posted 01-04-2013 07:01 PM

Wow, what a great idea and learning point too. I think the hide glue is good idea. Very interesting and informative.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View DustyMark's profile


346 posts in 2036 days

#4 posted 01-04-2013 11:22 PM


I absolutely love your designs; especially your chairs. 20 years ago, I made my first attempt at executing your Bowback chair design. The first one wasn’t quite right, but chairs 2 through 6 turned out great. The fact that your family was able to build a successful business making furniture with such sound joinery, timeless style, and the best raw materials is nothing short of amazing. I’ve grown a great respect for what you’ve acheived!

-- Mark, Minnesota

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